When in Barcelona, you go out to eat tapas. Those tiny little plates of joy that tend empty your wallet more quickly than they fill your stomach – but yet, still seem worth every Euro if you choose right place, as we did last night. (Que delicia, Sensi, muchisimas gracias.)
This week in Barcelona, you also go to VMworld. At least you do if you are in technology, driving virtualization, cloud or any major IT modernization effort. Virtualization is at the heart of most critical IT initiatives today, and VMware is still the king.
There are many blogs that cover the different announcements that have occurred at VMworld, so I dare not tread on that well-worn path. VMware’s EMEA VP and CTO has a darn good summary, here, for those who need one.
Besides, most announcement review articles/blogs come from those with far more technical chops, and usually some sort of certification acronym that starts with a “V” after their name, and tend to go into American-sized main-course depth on technical ins-and-outs of each product.
I’d rather put a few quick, tapas-sized thoughts down on the main themes that seemed to permeate the show on day one, and maybe offer some Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) pairings to make a fine meal indeed.
Clearly a crowd favorite off the menu, and ably served with new spice from VMware. Whether it was the focus on VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cross-Cloud Architecture or the overall positioning of cloud management and automation, it was clear that cloud as a topic is as popular around these parts as Lionel Messi or Jamón ibérico.
There’s good reason too. The benefits of consuming infrastructure, IT platforms and software as a service are numerous and well understood at this point. However, while on a significant growth ramp, the challenges – especially here in Europe, with its higher expectations about data locality and privacy – are significant. VMware is doing its part to ease some of that burden and, of course, to find a new strategy to thrive in hybrid-cloud conversations and deployments, while combating the public cloud pure-plays and Microsoft’s Windows-plus-Azure combination punch.
The HDS pairing?
HDS is working on a number of cloud initiatives including storage tiering to the cloud, object storage clouds and the most obvious and closely aligned to VMware, last week’s announcement of Hitachi Enterprise Cloud. Available as either a usage/outcome based managed cloud or as a traditionally purchases system, it creates a ready-to-use cloud platform that’s pre-engineered (on top of our Unified Compute Platform converged infrastructure, automation and APIs) with VMware vRealize Suite and all the HDS or HDS Partner services you need to get your important applications migrated and into the cloud environment. We are VERY excited about the initial customer response we are seeing, and even more integrations will be coming soon.
VMware seems to agree we're on to something good, as last week Rob Smoot, VP or Product Marketing said that the Hitachi Enterprise Cloud "...creates a powerful on-ramp for our mutual customers to leverage VMware vRealize Suite as their cloud management platform in order to lower operational costs and increase business agility." Read more of the quote, here. And for a more in-depth view and lots of helpful links, check out Paul Meehan's blog, here.
Not everyone is ready for such a spicy order, so the next of our tapas to be ordered is for those who are building their own cloud, and don’t necessarily need an out-of-box and ready-to-go cloud solution on VMware.
Enter convergence. This infrastructure side-dish can be had in regular (converged infrastructure) or with a special sauce (hyperconverged.) Listening to VMware announce VSAN 6.5 and walking the show floor to see all the normal suspects (Nutanix, Simplivity, etc.) and some not so normal suspects (including those whose differentiation I simply cannot explain), it becomes clear, hypercovergence is our industry's shiny, new infrastructure object.
Promises of simplicity, endless scale (any vendor that says “infinite scalability” makes me chuckle, and there were more than one) and ease of deployment were around every corner. And strangely enough, many rang very close to true. Because of these benefits, hyperconverged infrastructure is making inroads into datacenters for many new applications. But I will say this: mirroring what we see with our own Customer Advisory Boards, customers are interested, customers are testing, and yes, customers are deploying hyperconverged infrastructure for a number of applications. Customer excitement, however, is outstretched by vendor exuberance. Most customers are still in a learning or testing phase for anything more than tier two applications. At least for now.
For the rest of the customers, those generally running non-stop applications or quite large environments, there is still a significant interest in “traditional” (can we say that yet?) converged infrastructure - especially the all-flash models now available.
But regardless of your flavor of this infrastructure dish, it’s likely that you’ll be ordering off the menu, not the individual ingredients and making your own meal. At least for the crowd at VMworld, the discussion has largely moved from components to converged for the foreseeable future.
I’m not sure how to say this more clearly, but we are ALL-IN on converged and hyper-converged infrastructure.
Our Unified Compute Platform (UCP) is a well-established, trusted and heavily deployed converged infrastructure solution that has found particular success in VMware, SAP and Oracle environments, to name a few.
Our first offerings in our UCP HC line of hyperconverged offerings are based on VMware VSAN and bring all the benefits therein. While newer, these are seeing great initial success and we are adding to the line aggressively with new form factors, flash support and management capabilities.
We even have a an analytics-focused Hyper Scale-out Platform (HSP) that offers a unique blend of massively scaled-out virtualized compute and storage all in a file system that offers fast data ingest capabilities for IoT workloads.
Our “special sauce” on this pairing has two ingredients.
First, our automation. Our converged infrastructure management and automation tools are part of a larger Hitachi Management Automation Strategy that will simplify the consumption and use of our infrastructure. Paula Phipps does a tremendous job talking about our strategy (and focusing on its relevance to the service provider world) in this blog.
The other ingredient for our special sauce here is choice. Blade server? Rack server? SDN? Traditional network? Brocade? Cisco? External storage? Virtualized storage? VMware? KVM? Microsoft?
Yes. We. Can.
So if the vendor you last spoke to seemed to think there was only ONE way to converge, maybe it’s because that’s all they can sell you. Or maybe it's what bests sells the servers that make an large acquisition viable.
But, we’d humbly like to help you get the RIGHT converged infrastructure for YOUR needs, because the chances are that we have it on the menu.
Let’s keep this meal short, because too many tapas makes the seats in coach seem even smaller and I’m already pushing my limits there and have a long flight home.
But you cannot walk the floor of VMworld without seeing the continued prominence of storage. There’s storage in hyper-converged. There’s software-defined storage (that oddly enough, still needs pretty specific hardware.) There’s hybrid storage. And then there’s the one people are most interested in: flash storage. Of all the storage tapas choices, flash is numero uno on everyone’s mind.
If you’d been to this particular VMworld restaurant before, or you only read through the hyper-converged part of the menu, you might have thought that storage tapas were no longer offered. But the chef (VMware) polled their customers in one session today, and a funny thing turned up: reality. Many customers still see external storage playing a critical role in their data centers over the next five years.
You see, most customers who are supporting critical applications in a virtual environment have come to trust the proven storage systems they have used for some time. It turns out that customers can’t drink the vino tinto as fast as vendors pour it. (Yes, I substituted “vino tinto” or red wine in for KoolAide, because it just felt so much more European. Sorry.)
That same storage session also provided customer input that showed how aggressively flash is changing the data center storage landscape. 68% of customers believe that their data centers will have more that half of their storage capacity in all-flash systems in the next five years. That’s a huge jump, but frankly it mirrors what we are seeing as well within our customer base.
The HDS pairing?
HDS is well known for our storage, so this pairing doesn’t need the help of a knowledgeable sommelier.
We are now recognized as a serious threat to the perceived leaders in all-flash storage with our fast-growing Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) F Series adding to our stature as a perennial leader in general purpose storage systems.
And, before too long, we'll be making some announcements that take our all-flash and overall storage portfolio to even greater levels of efficiency, performance and cost effectiveness. But that recipe is staying in the secret test kitchen, at least for a few more weeks.
So that's probably enough to dine on after a first day at VMworld - and probably as far as I can push the tapas story line anyway. But to finish one last try on the theme with a quick dessert, it would have to be the sweet, sweet idea of Digital Transformation. It is THE new buzzword on everyone's lips. (Including ours.)
While I offered my pairings of HDS technology for each theme above, all I'll say on Digital Transformation is this: you either believe the partner that can help you with Digital Transformation efforts is the IT vendor with the shiniest new IT toy and promise, or the one that is part of a global technology powerhouse that manufactures machines (or the Things of IoT), runs industrial and highly verticalized businesses and just-so-happens to also be a terrific and differentiated IT infrastructure provider.
And while I've given my opinion for at least the last couple of years, that choice is ultimately yours.
And tomorrow, as the show floor opens again, you'll be able to visit us all ask tough questions and make that decision for yourself. I look forward to talking with you if you see me on the floor, but I probably won't write a "day two" VMworld blog tomorrow night no matter how interesting our chat.
This is mainly because I think these themes will hold strong with only minor additions throughout the week.
But it may also be that as much as I love going out for tapas, there is one other Barcelona pastime that I enjoy even more. And I hear there's a game in town...